ALGERIA: Rev Youssef Ourahmane loses appeal

Youssef OurahmaneAlgerian church leader Rev Youssef Ourahmane has lost his appeal against his one-year prison sentence for holding an unauthorised religious assembly and holding worship in a building not permitted for worship.

In July 2023 he was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment and fined 100,000 Algerian Dinars, equivalent to approximately €690, but his prison sentence was reduced to one year at an appeal court hearing in November 2023, with the fine to stand.

Rev Youssef appealed the conviction for a second time but on 23 April the Court of Appeal in Tizi Ouzou upheld his prison sentence and fine, announcing the verdict on 2 May. The court added a six-month suspended prison sentence to his one-year sentence and he remains out of prison while an appeal to Algeria’s Supreme Court is being prepared.

Rev Youssef leads House of Hope church in Aïn Turk in northwest Algeria’s Oran province and oversees a number of other churches and Bible schools around the country. The charges against him relate to an incident in March 2023 when a small number of Christian families spent three days during the school holidays in a church compound under his supervision. The small church premises in the compound had been sealed by order of the provincial governor in 2019.

Rev Youssef is also vice president of the Èglise Protestante d’Algérie (EPA), an association of around 45 Algerian churches, most of which have been closed under a severe crackdown that began in 2017. Many leaders of EPA churches have been convicted of charges such as “shaking the faith” of Muslims and “illegal worship”.

Following the recent appeal hearing, Kelsey Zorzi, Director of Advocacy for Global Religious Freedom for ADF International, commented: “The decision of the Appellate Court to uphold Pastor Youssef’s conviction and sentence amounts to a blatant violation of his rights under both Algerian and international law and must be condemned. We are hopeful that the Supreme Court of Algeria will hear Pastor Youssef’s case and finally and fully acquit him so that he can resume his duties as a pastor.

The Algerian government is believed to be concerned about the large number of Algerians converting to Christianity – as Rev Youssef, himself a convert from Islam, explained: “In the 1970s the government gave out licences to churches which were largely full of expats. Today, the government is concerned that our churches are almost entirely filled with large numbers of Algerian converts and they therefore want to suppress the spread of the gospel among us”.


Youssef Ourahmane became a Christian when he was a student and went to study at Bible college in the UK, where he met his wife Hee Tee from Malaysia. They founded House of Hope church in 1997 and tens of thousands of Algerians have reportedly become Christians through the House of Hope centre, with many receiving training at its Bible school.

Rev Youssef worked with Operation Mobilisation for over forty years and in September 2018 he was elected vice president of the EPA. He and Hee Tee have three grown up daughters and several grandchildren.

Read more about the persecution of Christians in Algeria in Church in Chains’ Algeria Country Profile.

(ADF International, Church in Chains, Middle East Concern)

Photo credit: Middle East Concern